On Thursday, record-setting cold will park itself atop the Midwest. Chicago is looking at one of the coldest days in its history and, along with Minneapolis, will be colder than Alaska, Mount Everest and the McMurdo research station in Antarctica.

Normally reserved for the upper latitudes at this time of the year, the frigid arctic air has coiled far to the south, into the continental United States, because of shifts in the jet stream.

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Among the 30 places forecast to be the coldest in the world Thursday, eight will be in the United States.

City Country Low (°F)
1. Surgut Russia -39.5°
2. Yakutsk Russia -38.6°
3. Winnipeg Canada -38.2°
4. Churchill Canada -37.2°
5. Fort Severn Canada -36.4°
6. Repulse Bay Canada -36.2°
7. Tiksi Russia -35.8°
8. Nizhneyansk Russia -35.4°
9. Bismarck, N.D. U.S.A. -35.3°
10. Minneapolis U.S.A. -34.9°
11. Dickson Russia -33.5°
12. Chicago U.S.A. -32.4°
13. Des Moines, Iowa U.S.A. -32.1°
14. Resolute Canada -31.8°
15. Regina Canada -30.8°
City Country Low (°F)
16. Milwaukee, Wis. U.S.A. -29.6°
17. Tomsk Russia -28.9°
18. Thunder Bay Canada -28.9°
19. Prudhoe Bay, Alaska U.S.A. -27.8°
20. Saskatoon Canada -27.0°
21. Yellowknife Canada -26.5°
22. Chita Russia -26.0°
23. Arctic Bay Canada -25.6°
24. Pierre, S.D. U.S.A. -25.2°
25. Ulaanbaatar Mongolia -24.2°
26. Erdenet Mongolia -24.1°
27. Barnaul Russia -24.1°
28. Magadan Russia -23.5°
29. Omaha, Neb. U.S.A. -23.0°
30. Novosibirsk Russia -22.6°
City Country Low (°F)
1. Surgut Russia -39.5°
2. Yakutsk Russia -38.6°
3. Winnipeg Canada -38.2°
4. Churchill Canada -37.2°
5. Fort Severn Canada -36.4°
6. Repulse Bay Canada -36.2°
7. Tiksi Russia -35.8°
8. Nizhneyansk Russia -35.4°
9. Bismarck, N.D. U.S.A. -35.3°
10. Minneapolis U.S.A. -34.9°
11. Dickson Russia -33.5°
12. Chicago U.S.A. -32.4°
13. Des Moines, Iowa U.S.A. -32.1°
14. Resolute Canada -31.8°
15. Regina Canada -30.8°
16. Milwaukee, Wis. U.S.A. -29.6°
17. Tomsk Russia -28.9°
18. Thunder Bay Canada -28.9°
19. Prudhoe Bay, Alaska U.S.A. -27.8°
20. Saskatoon Canada -27.0°
21. Yellowknife Canada -26.5°
22. Chita Russia -26.0°
23. Arctic Bay Canada -25.6°
24. Pierre, S.D. U.S.A. -25.2°
25. Ulaanbaatar Mongolia -24.2°
26. Erdenet Mongolia -24.1°
27. Barnaul Russia -24.1°
28. Magadan Russia -23.5°
29. Omaha, Neb. U.S.A. -23.0°
30. Novosibirsk Russia -22.6°

Nearly 90 million people will endure conditions below zero degrees in the Midwest and New England from this polar vortex cold snap, according to the National Weather Service, and 25 million of them will face temperatures below minus-20.

What is the polar vortex?

1. The polar vortex is a broad region of Arctic air normally centered over the North Pole.

2. It is held in place by the jet stream, a river of wind thousands of feet above ground, which divides cold air in the north from warmer air in the south. The jet stream bends around high and low pressure systems.

1

Arctic

Ocean

2

Pacific

Ocean

Atlantic

Ocean

3. When highs and lows contort the jet stream, it can dislodge the polar vortex — or part of it — and force it south.

North

Pole

3

4

4. A polar vortex event can cause temperatures to dive well below average, sometimes for days.

1. The polar vortex is a broad region of Arctic air usually centered over the North Pole.

2. It is held in place by the jet stream, a river of wind thousands of feet above ground, which divides cold air in the north from warmer air in the south. The jet stream

bends around high and

low pressure systems.

3. When highs and lows contort the jet stream, it can dislodge the polar vortex — or part of it — and force it south.

4. A polar vortex event

can cause temperatures to dive well below average, sometimes for days.

1

Arctic

Ocean

2

Atlantic

Ocean

North

Pole

3

4

Pacific

Ocean

1. The polar vortex is a broad region of Arctic air normally centered over

the North Pole.

2. It is held in place by the jet stream, a river of wind thousands of feet above ground, which divides cold air in the north from warmer air in the south. The jet stream bends around high and low pressure systems.

3. When highs and lows contort the jet stream, it can dislodge the polar vortex — or part of it — and force it south.

4. A polar vortex event can cause temperatures to dive well below average, sometimes for days.

1

Arctic

Ocean

2

Atlantic

Ocean

North

Pole

3

4

Pacific

Ocean

1. The polar vortex is a broad region of Arctic air normally centered over the North Pole.

2. It is held in place by the jet stream, a river of wind thousands of feet above ground, which divides cold air in the north from warmer air in the south. The jet stream bends around high and low pressure systems.

3. When highs and lows contort the jet stream, it can dislodge the polar vortex — or part of it — and force it south.

4. A polar vortex event can cause temperatures to dive well below average, sometimes for multiple days.

1

Arctic

Ocean

2

Atlantic

Ocean

North

Pole

3

4

Pacific

Ocean

Kevin Schaul, Monica Ulmanu and Reuben Fischer-Baum contributed to this report.

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Source: NOAA Global Forecast System

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